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Meaningful Meals

Directed by:

Franco Duerme


9 minutes


Meaningful Meals Official Trailer


A minimum wage worker struggles to find meaning in the meals they eat to get them through the week. What ensues is a journey to find that meaning and why the things they eat are important.

Director Statement

In 2021 I was required to reenter the working world during an unfortunate time in history. The world pandemic pushed my living situation to an unfortunate conclusion, and I ended up acquiring a job mindlessly vacuuming the cars for rent money. As I worked throughout the year while attending my senior year of college, I became reliant on quick and convenient food to get me through the week. Microwave burritos, fast food, and single cups of instant coffee quickly became my diet. Eventually, I missed the home-cooked Filipino meals that I ate before moving out and I became increasingly adamant about making the food myself. Meaningful Meals is the story of the rediscovery and appreciation for the dishes I cherish, and how food affects our everyday lives.

Through the lens of a minimum wage worker, we see a familiar tedium we all experience at least once in our lives. Burnout, in a sense, of the jobs we work. Whether we work our hands into a monotonous routine or outside forces push our inner emotions to negativity, burnout causes us to become numb to the different feelings we once had. How do we get ourselves away from such a rut? In my film, I describe how one way out is through the stomach.

The dishes that are featured, Lumpia and Pancit, are the staple food of my culture for good reason. They are filling, delicious, and very easy dishes to understand. While I believe this movie could substitute the dishes for a wide variety of home-cooked meals that make us feel reinvigorated and still be relevant to the working class issue of nutrition; the specific inclusion of Lumpia and Pancit creates a cultural depth that I believe is important.

To lightly touch on this depth, Lumpia and Pancit are merely two dishes out of a bevy of other dishes that represent Filipinos. They are dishes that stand out to people who are not entirely entrenched in the culture. As a Filipino-American, it was important for me to learn these dishes because they represent a certain highlighted part of the culture. While I could’ve chosen a multitude of foods to bring me out of the proverbial rut I was in, these dishes meant more than just a good home-cooked meal. It was a way to reconnect with my heritage, a childhood feeling, and the joy of learning something new.

Director Biography - Franco Duerme

Franco Duerme is a 31-year-old Director, Writer, Producer, and Editor. His dream since he was a child was to become a storyteller, writing stories in his elementary school journal whenever he had an idea. He's set his eyes on the power of film to express his latest narratives.

Franco has a variety of credits under his belt, ranging from Director/Producer to an assistant editor. He recently worked a 48-hour competition that was shown at Cannes.

Meaningful Meals


filmmaker-Luke Stirtz.png

filmmaker-Luke Stirtz.png

filmmaker-Luke Stirtz.png


Franco Duerme


Franco Duerme


Chiara Opal

Key Cast

Ashley Stenger

Associate Producer

Benjamin Lacey

Director of Photography

Vik Bryan

Assistant Camera

Eric Rojas


Matthew Whitcomb

Assistant Lighting

James Courtright


Joan Ferebee

Script Supervisor

Sky Mckay

Production Assistant

Benjamin Lacey

Post Production Supervisor

Matt Esteron


Travis Johnson


Ollie Nichols

Assistant Editor

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